Understanding the role of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in alcohol use disorders
Leavitt, Rachel May
MetadataShow full item record
Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) have devastating economic, mortality, and public health implications on society. Repeated cycles of alcohol intoxication and abstinence are known to induce neuroplastic alterations in specific brain regions, alterations which in turn trigger and sustain excessive alcohol drinking. The Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis (BNST) has been proposed as a critical brain site for neuroadaptations induced by chronic alcohol. The Pituitary Adenylate-Cyclase Activating Polypeptide (PACAP) system highly expressed in the BNST, has been proposed to be a master regulator of the stress response. These experiments aimed to investigate the role of the PACAP system of the BNST in alcohol drinking. Using a two-bottle choice chronic intermittent ethanol paradigm, we demonstrated that excessive intermittent alcohol consumption causes a marked increase in PACAP immunoreactivity in the BNST of mice. In addition, we observed a significant higher PACAP expression in the BNST of female, compared to male mice. These data lay the foundation for more extensive studies which may lead to the identification of a neuropeptide system with a critical role in heavy alcohol drinking. A deeper understanding of the specific neuroadaptations produced by chronic alcohol will be essential for the discovery of novel therapeutic agents to alleviate alcoholism.